Here's Why Mayville Engineering Company (NYSE:MEC) Has A Meaningful Debt Burden

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 21, 2022
NYSE:MEC
Source: Shutterstock

Legendary fund manager Li Lu (who Charlie Munger backed) once said, 'The biggest investment risk is not the volatility of prices, but whether you will suffer a permanent loss of capital.' It's only natural to consider a company's balance sheet when you examine how risky it is, since debt is often involved when a business collapses. Importantly, Mayville Engineering Company, Inc. (NYSE:MEC) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt Dangerous?

Debt assists a business until the business has trouble paying it off, either with new capital or with free cash flow. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. However, a more usual (but still expensive) situation is where a company must dilute shareholders at a cheap share price simply to get debt under control. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we examine debt levels, we first consider both cash and debt levels, together.

See our latest analysis for Mayville Engineering Company

How Much Debt Does Mayville Engineering Company Carry?

You can click the graphic below for the historical numbers, but it shows that Mayville Engineering Company had US$54.7m of debt in September 2021, down from US$60.0m, one year before. Net debt is about the same, since the it doesn't have much cash.

debt-equity-history-analysis
NYSE:MEC Debt to Equity History January 21st 2022

How Healthy Is Mayville Engineering Company's Balance Sheet?

We can see from the most recent balance sheet that Mayville Engineering Company had liabilities of US$72.4m falling due within a year, and liabilities of US$94.7m due beyond that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of US$127.0k as well as receivables valued at US$62.3m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by US$104.7m.

While this might seem like a lot, it is not so bad since Mayville Engineering Company has a market capitalization of US$274.7m, and so it could probably strengthen its balance sheet by raising capital if it needed to. However, it is still worthwhile taking a close look at its ability to pay off debt.

We use two main ratios to inform us about debt levels relative to earnings. The first is net debt divided by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), while the second is how many times its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) covers its interest expense (or its interest cover, for short). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

While Mayville Engineering Company's low debt to EBITDA ratio of 1.3 suggests only modest use of debt, the fact that EBIT only covered the interest expense by 4.7 times last year does give us pause. So we'd recommend keeping a close eye on the impact financing costs are having on the business. Notably, Mayville Engineering Company made a loss at the EBIT level, last year, but improved that to positive EBIT of US$9.9m in the last twelve months. There's no doubt that we learn most about debt from the balance sheet. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if Mayville Engineering Company can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a business needs free cash flow to pay off debt; accounting profits just don't cut it. So it's worth checking how much of the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is backed by free cash flow. In the last year, Mayville Engineering Company created free cash flow amounting to 10% of its EBIT, an uninspiring performance. For us, cash conversion that low sparks a little paranoia about is ability to extinguish debt.

Our View

Mayville Engineering Company's conversion of EBIT to free cash flow was a real negative on this analysis, although the other factors we considered cast it in a significantly better light. For example, its net debt to EBITDA is relatively strong. When we consider all the factors discussed, it seems to us that Mayville Engineering Company is taking some risks with its use of debt. While that debt can boost returns, we think the company has enough leverage now. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. However, not all investment risk resides within the balance sheet - far from it. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign for Mayville Engineering Company that you should be aware of before investing here.

If, after all that, you're more interested in a fast growing company with a rock-solid balance sheet, then check out our list of net cash growth stocks without delay.

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